Chalk Talk: Welcome to the brave new world of corporate degrees

David Willetts's brave new world of higher education has not been very long in gestation.

Hot on the heels of the Universities Minister's Higher Education White Paper creating a more competitive environment for universities comes news of the first new business degree to be validated by a leading private company.

The education publisher Pearson's will go into partnership with Royal Holloway university to provide a Pearson's degree course for students from September 2012.

The company is already planning further entries into providing degree courses – possibly with other universities. They will not be the only ones, I am sure.

The idea of competing for a gold medal in caring may not have crossed the minds of some famous sportsmen and women and boxers.

In the past week, you would not have awarded it to cricketer Stuart Broad, fined for swearing at an umpire, or boxer David Haye, who kept up a barrage of verbal assaults on his rival for the heavyweight boxing crown, Wladimir Klitschko, for instance.

Yet two Brits – Emma Fitzpatrick and Frances McMenemy, both from Scotland – will be competing for that honour when the World Skills Olympics open in London in October.

Caring is one of the new categories to be included in the games alongside mobile robotics, electrical installations and landscape gardening.

In all, 43 UK hopefuls will be competing in the games. After the sporting disappointments of the last fortnight, we wish them well.

Nice to see it is not just the issue of pensions that is exercising teachers' trade union officials these days.

The Teacher, the internal organ of the National Union of Teachers, helpfully prints advice on the minimum number of toilets that should be provided for staff.

Fewer than five staff and there needs to be only one toilet. If there are between 76 and 100, though, you need five.

Let negotiations commence!

Meanwhile, congratulations to Ian Todd, who has just been appointed as the first chief executive of the Government's new Standards and Testing Agency. The new watchdog will oversee statutory tests and assessments taken by all children up until the age of 14.

Mr Todd is a former chief executive of the General Dental Council. A case, then, of giving the new watchdog some teeth?

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